Tom’s d’Etat takes on Pletcher trio in Woodward Stakes

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Older horses will seek their final chance to win a graded stakes at the prestigious Saratoga Race Course meet when a field of nine assembles for today’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets.

Named in honor of William Woodward Sr., who owned the prestigious Bel Air Stud, the 1 1/8-mile event over the main track has been used as a resume builder on recent Horse of the Year campaigns for the likes of Cigar, Skip Away, Mineshaft, Ghostzapper, Saint Liam, Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, Havre De Grace and most recently, Gun Runner. Inaugurated at Aqueduct and previously run at Belmont Park, the Woodward has been contested at the Spa since 2006.

G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat will attempt to keep his undefeated record at Saratoga alive while also looking to net his first graded stakes win. The lightly-raced 6-year-old son of Smart Strike has won all three of his starts at Saratoga, which include a maiden victory at third asking in August 2016, a nine-length victory against winners the following year where he garnered a career best 106 Beyer Speed Figure and defeated stakes winners Far From Over and Bodhisattva. In his most recent start, he won the Alydar on August 2 at Saratoga.

“We’ve hit everything we’ve wanted to hit. He’s been training over the Oklahoma training track with two nice breezes and seems pretty comfortable over there,” Stall Jr. said. “We’ve always felt he has Grade 1 talent, we just hope he has the chance to prove it. The New York-bred [Mr. Buff] is in there with some speed, so we definitely want a stalking trip. We don’t have any interest in being on the lead. He did that in a couple of races and we feel like he’s a better finisher coming from off the pace with a target.”

A two-time stakes winner, Tom’s d’Etat won his stakes debut in December in the Tenacious at Fair Grounds. Prior to the Alydar, he was twice graded stakes placed at Churchill Downs when finishing second in the Grade 2 Alysheba and third in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster.

Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, Tom’s d’Etat is out of the stakes winning Giant’s Causeway broodmare Julia Tuttle, whose dam Candy Cane is a full-sister to multiple champion producing stallion Candy Ride.

Tom’s d’Etat will leave from post 9 under two-time Saratoga leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., who seeks his first Woodward victory.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled three Woodward winners in Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010) and Liam’s Map (2015) and will send out a trio of contenders for this year’s Woodward.

Already a Grade 1 winner, Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Vino Rosso won the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May and was a recent third behind McKinzie in the Grade 1 Whitney. The chestnut son of 2008 Woodward winner Curlin has recorded two works since the Whitney, the most recent being a five-furlong bullet in 58.60 over the main track on Friday morning – the fastest of 22 recorded works at the distance.

“He breezed super on Friday,” Pletcher said. “It was a real strong breeze. He came out of it with some good energy and has been galloping well this week. It seems like he’s in good form. I think he’s become a more consistent workhorse, although I thought his last breeze was arguably the best breeze he ever had. He galloped out real strongly and looks great. His appetite has been good and his energy has been good.”

Pletcher said he looks forward to giving Vino Rosso another chance to become a multiple Grade 1-winner.

“It would be another Grade 1 and it’s a prestigious race with a horse that’s a big-time stallion prospect,” Pletcher said. “It would be another feather in his cap and he looks great.”

Vino Rosso will emerge from post 3 under Hall of Famer John Velazquez, a four-time winner of the Woodward.

Pletcher also will saddle Let’s Go Stable’s Wooderson, who was a recent second behind Tom’s d’Etat in the Alydar.

The son of Awesome Again and half-brother to 2009 Horse of the Year and Woodward winner Rachel Alexandra has won three times, one of which was a third out graduation at Saratoga last July.

“It was a good race. He was closing a bit at the end but just got there too late,” Pletcher said of the Alydar effort. “He’s a horse that we figured would get better with age all along and it seems like he’s starting to find his rhythm.”

Two-time Saratoga leading jockey Jose Ortiz will guide Wooderson from post 8.

Rounding out the Pletcher trio is Bal Harbour, who recorded a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure when finishing second by a head to War Story in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup in July.

Owned by Red Oak Stable, the chestnut son of First Samurai seeks his first graded stakes win, but has been a stakes winner three times having notched wins in the 2017 Sapling at Monmouth, the 2017 Smooth Air at Gulfstream and the 2018 Gio Ponti at Aqueduct.

“He lost a tough one to a warrior in War Story,” Pletcher said. “He’s training great, so we’ll see what he does.”

Bal Harbour will break from post 2 under two-time Saratoga leading rider and Hall of Famer Javier Castellano who seeks his third Woodward triumph.

Hall of Famer Bill Mott will send out Yoshida in search of a record fifth Woodward victory for the conditioner.

Owned by China Horse Club, WinStar Farm and Head of Plains Partners, Yoshida won last year’s Woodward and will attempt to be the first horse to score back-to-back triumphs since Lido Palace [2001-02]. The 5-year-old Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry, out of graded stakes winner Hilda’s Passion, was second in the Grade 1 Whitney last out and boasts the highest lifetime earnings in the field with $2,370,770. The well-rounded Yoshida owns Grade 1 triumphs on both dirt and turf. Three starts prior to winning last year’s Woodward, he won his 4-year-old debut in the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.

Jockey Joel Rosario will pilot Yoshida from post 7.

Chester and Mary Broman’s Mr. Buff has found plenty of success against his New York-bred counterparts but will seek his first graded stakes victory when breaking from the rail. The gelded chestnut son of Friend Or Foe is a four-time stakes winner, last out taking the Evan Shipman over the Spa main track in runaway fashion. He captured the Jazil against open company on January 26 at Aqueduct, where he recorded a 102 Beyer.

Mr. Buff is trained by John Kimmel, who saddled Premium Tap to a Woodward victory in 2006. He will be piloted by Jose Lezcano.

Completing the field for the Woodward are Mongolian Groom [post 4, Luis Saez], Preservationist [post 5, Junior Alvarado] and Forewarned [post 6, Anthony Salgado].

The Woodward is slated as Race 11 on today’s 12-race Woodward Racing Festival card, which also features the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress in Race 3, the Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac in Race 6 and the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls in Race 10. First post is 12:30.

The Woodward will be the centerpiece of today’s Saratoga Live broadcast airing on FS2 from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and regionally on MSG+ from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Glens Falls Stakes

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Race Course meet leading trainer Chad Brown will look to saddle his seventh graded turf stakes winner of the meet today entering a formidable trio for the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls.

The Glens Falls is slated as Race 10 on today’s 12-race Woodward Racing Festival card.

Headlining Brown’s triumvirate in the 1 3/8-miles inner turf marathon is multiple graded stakes winner Santa Monica for R Unicorn Stable. The 6-year-old British-bred Mastercraftsman mare has two wins from four starts this campaign, including victories in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream Park in March and the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay in May at Belmont Park.

Last out, in the Grade 3 Waya, she encountered a difficult trip to finish third to stablemate and fellow Glens Falls contender Fools Gold.

With meet leading rider Jose Ortiz aboard, Santa Monica will depart from post 4.

Fools Gold, a 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly for Wise Racing, earned her first graded stakes win and second victory from five starts this year in the Waya while recording a career best 92 Beyer Speed Figure. She entered the Waya off a good second-place finish in the River Memories on July 5 at Belmont. Fools Gold will leave from post 2 with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano in the irons.

Rounding out Brown’s trio is Martin Schwartz’s Night of England. The 4-year-old Lord of England filly made her first seven career starts in Germany, including a second-place finish in the Group 2 German Oaks as a sophomore before arriving in North America.

In two starts for Brown, she ran fifth in the Grade 3 Long Island on November 24 at Aqueduct Racetrack followed by a fifth-place first-level allowance effort on July 28 at Saratoga.

Drawing post 8, Night of England will have the services of Luis Saez.

Trainer Graham Motion entered a formidable pair of his own in Madaket Stables, Manganaro Bloodstock and Robert Masiello’s Empressof the Nile as well as Mrs. Sippy for owner Andrew Stone.

Joining Motion’s barn following 2018, the 5-year-old Pioneerof the Nile mare has made two starts for Motion including a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on June 29 at Woodbine and a second-level allowance win on August 1 at Saratoga in her most recent start.

Mrs. Sippy will be making her first start in North America in the Glens Falls. The Blame filly launcher her career in Europe where she collected two wins from nine starts including a stakes win at a Longchamp. She enters the Glens Falls off a seventh-place finish in the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes in June at Haydock Racecourse.

Empress of the Nile will depart from the rail with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard. Mrs Sippy will depart from post 5 with Joel Rosario in the irons.

Also entered are Get Explicit for conditioner Barbara Minshall and owner Eleanor McIntyre (Ricardo Santana, Jr., post 9); Godolphin’s Lady Montdore for trainer Tom Albertrani (Kendrick Carmouche, post 7); Violet Blue (Manny Franco, post 3). Indy Union (Junior Alvarado, post 6) is entered for the main track only.

Prioress Stakes

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Klein Racing’s Break Even, perfect through six starts, and Ghost Hollow Farm’s Risky Mandate, undefeated in two appearances, feature in today’s Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress, a six-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies at Saratoga Race Course.

Break Even, a dark bay daughter of Country Day trained by Brad Cox, won her first two starts at Fair Grounds before winning the Purple Martin at Oaklawn in her stakes debut.

Cox then stepped the talented filly up in class in the Grade 2 Eight Belles at seven furlongs over a sloppy Churchill Downs main track, where she won by a widening 5 1/2-lengths. The well-traveled filly bobbled at the start of her Belmont Park debut in the six-furlong Jersey Girl, but held safe for a three-quarter length score that garnered a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure.

Last out, trying turf for the first time on July 14 in the Coronation Cup, Break Even again led gate-to-wire over next-out Galway winner Eyeinthesky.

Shaun Bridgmohan, aboard for five of Break Even’s wins, retains the mount from the inside post.

Risky Mandate, a dark bay daughter of Strong Mandate trained by Tom Amoss, graduated in style on debut by 6 1/4-lengths in a Churchill Downs maiden sprint. Out of the stakes-winning mare Paying Off, Risky Mandate was even more impressive last out with a driving 3 1/2-length victory over winners when sprinting seven furlongs on the Saratoga main. Amoss said he is hopeful someone will go with the pacey Break Even in the opening stages today. Jose Ortiz will guide Risky Mandate from post 2.

First Row Partners and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Royal Charlotte earned a career-best 89 Beyer when four lengths the best in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at 6 1/2-furlongs on the Belmont main on July 5 to cap off a four-race win streak to launch her career. Last out, the grey daughter of Cairo Prince conditioned by leading trainer Chad Brown finished sixth in the Grade 1 Test.

She will emerge from post 5 under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano as she looks to return to winning form.

Rounding out the field is Treadway Racing Stable’s Kept True. A three-time winner from five starts for trainer Leah Gyarmati, the dark bay daughter of Yes It’s True has won her last two starts, including an off-the-turf sprint on July 18 at the Spa. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will pilot Kept True from post 6.

Rounding out the field are South of France [John Velazquez, post 1] and Break Curfew [Ricardo Santana, Jr., post 4].

The Prioress, slated as Race 3, is one of four stakes on the lucrative Woodford Racing Festival card. The first post is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Saranac Stakes

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Live Oak Plantation’s graded-stakes winning homebred Global Access headlines a compact, but talented, field of six in today’s Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac at Saratoga Race Course.

The Saranac, a 1 1/16-mile Mellon turf route for sophomores, is one of four stakes on the lucrative Woodford Racing Festival card including the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward; the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls; and the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress.

Global Access, a chestnut son of Giant’s Causeway, is out of the multiple graded-stakes winning dam Daveron. A winner at second asking on the Woodbine Tapeta when routing for the first time, Global Access has shown versatility in his 10-race career winning the Sophomore Turf at Tampa Bay Downs and the Grade 3 Marine on the Woodbine main track in May.

Global Access, trained by Michael Trombetta, arrives at the Saranac from a wide-rallying third in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame, won by Casa Creed on August 2 on the Saratoga turf.

Global Access posted a strong breeze of four furlongs in 49.63 seconds on August 23, second best of 51 workouts that day on the Oklahoma training turf.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez retains the mount from post 4.

Klaravich Stables’ Good Governance, a bay son of Kingman conditioned by leading trainer Chad Brown, won impressively on his August 4 debut when rallying from last of 11 to secure a nose win in a one-mile maiden turf event.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will pilot Good Governance, who earned an 85 Beyer for his lone career start, from post 2.

Bond Racing Stable’s Rinaldi, a New York-bred son of Posse, graduated at second asking in the Spectacular Bid division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series on June 23 at seven furlongs on the Belmont Park turf.

Last out, in the NYSSS Cab Calloway, Rinaldi led gate-to-wire under Luis Saez garnering an 85 Beyer in the one-mile turf tilt. James Bond trains the well-related Rinaldi, a $5,000 purchase at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton New York Fall Mixed Sale, who is a half-brother to Canadian champion Hollinger.

Jose Ortiz has the call aboard Rinaldi from post 3.

Seismic Wave, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, boasts a record of 2-2-1 from eight turf starts highlighted by a victory in the one-mile Cutler Bay in March at Gulfstream Park.

The Tapit chestnut followed up his stakes score with a pair of strong rallying efforts when fourth, defeated 1 ½-lengths, in the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs; and second, defeated a neck by Demarchelier, in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge at Belmont. He will look to regroup in the Saranac following a pair of off-the-board efforts. Joel Rosario will ride Seismic Wave from post 6.

Gary and Mary West’s Power Player, initially trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, debuted with a rallying third in a key one-mile turf maiden on September 29 at Santa Anita Park won by Flying Scotsman, who exited that event to win the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille on the Del Mar turf. In second for that September 29 maiden debut was Omaha Beach, who later won the Grade 2 Rebel and Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

Power Player returned to action on July 4 in the care of trainer Jason Servis and wired a Belmont turf maiden by a half-length earning a 79 Beyer. The Distorted Humor grey is out of Cambiocorsa, who has produced graded-stakes winners Schiaparelli and Moulin de Mougin as well as stakes winners Alexis Tangier and Bronson. Power Player will emerge from the inside post under Luis Saez.

Rounding out the field is Calumet Farm’s Tracksmith. Trained by Joe Sharp, the Street Sense bay captured the Frisk Me Now last out at Monmouth Park. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano has the call from post 5.

The Saranac is slated as Race 6 on today’s 12-race card. The first post is slated for 12:30 p.m.

By Jim Ellis

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